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China Considers New Satellite Site

October 7, 1999

BEIJING (AP) _ China is mulling the possibility of building a new satellite launch site on an island whose southern latitude would make it easier to reach orbit, an official newspaper said Thursday.

The proposed launch center in Sanya city on Hainan, a tropical island off the southern Chinese coast, could eventually replace three existing launch pads in the southwest and north of the country, the China Daily reported.

``It is very possible that the plan will be passed by the central government, which has yet to make a final decision,″ Long Lehao, a deputy director of the China Satellite Transport Technology Research Academy, was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

Hainan is ``an ideal launch location″ because its southern latitude would make it easier to send rocket-carried payloads into orbit, Long said. The center, which would double as a tourist destination, could cost $240 million, he said.

Most satellites are launched to orbit the Earth’s equator. If the rocket is launched far from the equator, it needs more fuel to take the satellite it into the right orbit.

Rockets and satellites could also be shipped to Hainan, rather than travel by plane or train as they do to China’s existing launch pads in Xichang, Jiuquan and Taiyuan, Long said. Launches from Hainan also would be safer because the island is less populated than existing sites, he said.

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